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Researching his war history
Photos of my grandfather's Death Penny, photo of Vlamertinghe Cemetery and of his grave. Photo of granddad, his wife and son. Copy of letter sent from Commanding officer. Copy of letter from Command Paymaster, Eastern Command, copy of Scroll of Honour, copy of birth and marriage certificate for R.ALLEN, copy of photo of myself taken at his graveside, copy of photo taken of his grave with rememberance cross, copy of photo taken book with names of the fallen and copy of the visitors book with my inscription
My Grandfather Private Robert Allen 19351, 13th Bn., Gloucestershire Regiment died on the 1st March 1917, he was 23 years old. He left a wife, my grandmother Annie and two little boys, my Uncle Martin and my father Robert who was only 3 months old. My grandmother received the obligatory letter sent by his commanding officer from somewhere in France telling her that her husband had died of his wounds but no information obviously as to where he died or was buried. As the letter was posted from France they assumed he had been killed and buried in that country. In those days you just got on with life and without the aid of telephones or computers readily at hand it was nigh on impossible to glean any information, so Nan continued her life as best she could with her two little boys. She eventually re-married and the boys found a fathers love in their lives. I was born in 1949 and of course never knew my grandfather or anything about him. I just heard snippets of family stories and must have stored them to the back of my mind, but I always wondered about my brave granddad who had died in the First World War. I was always interested in our family history but could never get out of my mind my grandfather who fought and died for his country and was buried somewhere and we as a family did not know where. I made it my mission to find my grandfather and made a promise that once found I would go and 'meet' him and honour his grave. This was a mission and a half and took up many years on and off, but I never gave up, hitting brick walls was my favourite pastime. By coincidence I received some information from an old family friend who was also doing research and he thought he may have found granddad and that he thought he was buried under the right surname but the wrong initial, a J instead of an R for Robert. I contacted the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and asked for their help and they were brilliant. Through them not only did they find granddads grave they had his initial corrected so it read R. ALLEN. They also sent me photographs of the headstone once it had been corrected, I was elated and thanked them so much for their effort. They really do a fabulous job of keeping all war graves around the world in pristine condition. So once found I decided that my grandfather deserved the respect of some one in his family paying their respects, so my husband and I took ourselves off to Ypres in Belgium for four days to do this. !No he was not in France after all! I found Ypres to be a beautiful place and was very emotional when I stood at the Menin Gate hearing the last post each evening but what I was not prepared for was the consuming grief and emotion I felt on arriving at Vlamertinghe Military Cemetery. Only a small cemetery in comparison to some of the others. Just 1000 souls rest here and three young German soldiers. I eventually found granddad and felt so proud as I stood by his grave, I could not speak but cried silent tears for this man who like thousands of others gave their lives in such an atrocious war so we could live in freedom. I was his granddaughter and I was the first member of his family to visit his grave and pay my respects, that was on the 3rd June 2013 and it will not be my last visit. Many a time I wanted to give up in my search for my grandfather but I am so glad that now I have found him I did not, I am proud of that man who lies buried in a foreign land but he will always be here in my heart.